50 Hikes 50 States–Texas
I was sitting in a hot tub in Hot Springs, Arkansas, when a lady asked me why I was in Arkansas. I mentioned I was there for my 50 Hikes 50 States Project.
She asked details.
I explained that I was hiking one hike in every state. Once a month, I leave Denver to a destination and at that destination I try to hike 2-3 states while at that destination.
Again she asked why I was in Arkansas.
“To hike Texas and Arkansas.”
And she replied, “There’s no place to hike in Texas.”
To her credit, she admitted she wasn’t much of a hiker, lived in Dallas where everyone drives, and wished me luck.
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There’s No Place to Hike in Texas
Despite Texas being the second largest state by geography in the country, and despite that Texas has amazing open spaces of rolling hills, canyons, woods, deserts, rivers, and lakes, people generally balk at calling Texas an outdoor state. Loaded with oil, oil rigs, oil men and almost more cows than residents, I can understand why people might think this way. But there’s great hiking in Texas.
The problem with Texas in my 50 Hikes 50 States Project is that it’s hard to hike Texas and then 2-3 other states in one trip. The geography is difficult. The distances are great. The airports are sparse.
So despite wanting to hike in Big Bend National Park, the rolling hills outside of Austin, or along the river in San Antonio, we found a wonderful state park with a gorgeous lake in northeastern Texas near Arkansas.
Atlanta, Texas Has a Wizard of Oz Trail
Which is why I was in a hot tub in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We had just hiked the Volksmarch Trail in Atlanta State Park just outside of Texarkana, Texas. It’s near Atlanta, Texas, which was named by the railworkers who settled in the area and were originally from Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta State Park sits just south of Wright Putnam Lake, created when the Army Corp dammed the Sulphur River to create a flood control mechanism in 1958. First known as Lake Texarkana, it was later renamed after a Democratic Populist congressman who wanted to pass taxes and fees on large chain stores to help protect mom-and-pop stores from competition. Boats and water crafts zip along the lake now, while several parks skirt its banks.
We found the Volksmarch Trail along the southern edge of the lake. Starting in a campground, it meanders though hardwoods to the lake’s natural edge, which fluctuates with rain fall and dam draw down. While hiking to the end of the trail, we could see where the end frequently changed based on water levels, and trees marked flood levels all around us.
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Our out-n-back hike wasn’t long; maybe 3 miles total. Hiking as a whole is not well developed in this park (see my friend’s comments above!) But our trail had one distinct feature I’ve never seen. A light moss covered the trail, providing a mustard yellow blanket of color throughout the forest. A bit “yellow brick road” and fairy mischief combined, the color and texture entertained us as we made our way out to the water view along this Wizard of Oz adventure.
As we finished the hike, my husband made another interesting comment about hiking in Texas. He said, “We hiked Texas without having to deal with Texas.” Meaning, we dipped our toe into the state, hiked, then jumped right back out. But as for “dealing with Texas,” I just sighed.
From Oil Rigs to Stuckey’s Pecan Rolls
I’ve been in Texas plenty. My first memories of Texas were from the back of a Porsche 911. My mom would get mad at my dad, and she’d load up my sister and me in the back of the Porsche. We’d drive from San Diego to West Virginia, passing through Texas. I learned the saying then: “The sun has risen, the sun has set, and here we are in Texas, yet.” Driving through Texas takes days.
On that trip, I learned how to spot oil rigs, figure miles per gallon, find Texaco stations, look for American Express Card Accepted signs, and trust truckers. I was four, five or six. I learned to read the road and understand what it’s like to be three women (okay, one mom and two young girls) crossing the country with two credit cards and no cash. I also learned that the pecan rolls at Stuckey’s were awful, but they were worth the wait and an awkward treat. Texas was a big part of that.
Additional memories come from frat parties at TCU with high school friends, walking the length of Austin with my walking advocate friends, and sipping margaritas on the San Antonio. But sadly, my hiking memories in Texas are really just limited to my Volksmarch Trail Hike at Atlanta State Park.
Where to Hike in Texas
So, I need to remedy this. I believe Texas has great hiking because my many friends have told me so! What’s on the list for the next time I’m in Texas? Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and Gorman Falls Trail. So hang in there, I’ll get to Texas again. And then, I’ll have some great pics of some super hikes that I know Texas has. Yeehaw!
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As we left our little hike just outside of Texarkana, our bellies rumbled. With nothing but a gas station near by, we headed back towards Little Rock for our Arkansas hike and stopped in Hope, AR. Land of Bill Clinton’s boyhood home, which we stopped in, we dropped into a family run place named Sheba’s. I snagged some delicious grilled veggies and pinto beans along with a super sweet, sweet potato. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was filling. If you want home cooking, Sheba’s is the place.
What You Need to Know About This Hike (click for interactive map)
Hiking Texas and Supporting EatWalkLearn
I hope you’re enjoying my 50 Hikes 50 States Project and following along as I hike all 50 states. I share these experiences with you to provide motivation, information, and adventure. Please feel free to share my info, ask me questions, and provide suggestions. I’d love it too if you’d follow me on social at @eatwalklearn.
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See you on the trail,
Chris: a correction on the saying about Texas. I learned it with a Texas accent: “The sun is riz. The sun is set. Here we is in Texas yet.” From a postcard in a honky tonk where my parents loved to go. I was 5 or 6 and always got the first sip of my dad’s Schlitz beer in a long neck.
Oh yes, of course! It is riz!!!! Thanks for the correction 🙂